(director: Michael Winner; screenwriter: story by David Rintels/Davis Rintels/Gerald Wilson; cinematographer: Robert Paynter; editor: Fredrick Wilson; music: Jerry Fielding; cast: Burt Lancaster (Cross), Alain Delon (Jean ‘Scorpio’ Laurier), Paul Scofield (Zharkov), Gayle Hunnicutt (Susan), John Colicos (McLeod), Joanne Linville (Sarah), William Smithers (Mitchell), James Sikking (Harris), Mel Stewart(Pick), J.D. Cannon (Filchock), Jack Colvin (Thief), Shmuel Rodensky (Max Lang), Vladek Sheybal (Zemetkin); Runtime: 114; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: Walter Mirisch; MGM/UA; 1973)
“Conventional double-cross Cold War espionage tale that’s exciting but to be a great film could have used a more forceful direction by Michael Winner.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A conventional double-cross Cold War espionage tale that’s exciting but to be a great film could have used a more forceful direction by Michael Winner (“The Sentinel”/”The Mechanic”) and been scripted with less of a convoluted story by David Rintels and Gerald Wilson. Veteran CIA agent Cross (Burt Lancaster) is suspected on flimsy evidence by his malevolent boss McLeod (John Colicos) of going over to the Soviets.
Though the real reason Cross is a marked man is because he knows too much of McLeod’s shady operation, and that the disillusioned spy made a fortune selling classified info and had secret Swiss bank accounts. When aware that the French freelance contract killer, nicknamed Scorpio, Jean Laurier (Alain Delon), has a CIA contract on him, Cross goes on the run without his wife Sarah (Joanne Linville) to protect her. Though Laurier, who was trained by Cross, refuses to kill him in Paris, he changes his mind when later he’s offered Cross’s job and is pressured by McLeod after framed for drug possession. For help Cross makes contact in Vienna with his rival counterpart spy, the Soviet agent Zharkov (Paul Scofield), someone he knows well and completely trusts. The amoral world of spies gets a jaded cynical look from Winner, and gets an outstanding performance from Lancaster.
The locations cover sites such as NYC, Vienna, Rome, Paris and Washington, D.C.. It offers nothing new about spies and the dangers they face, but it keeps your attention and is fine as long as you don’t take it too seriously.
REVIEWED ON 9/11/2017 GRADE: B https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/